Monday, September 28, 2009

Just a Bunch of Chicken Hawks

Keeping up with the present leaves precious little time for the past. Staying in touch with former coworkers, classmates, friends and neighbors is one of those intentions that too often falls by the wayside. Out of sight, out of mind. The intention to write, call or e-mail remains as days turn into weeks and weeks turn into years.

Enter Facebook (and other social networking sites). I've written about how great it is to connect with so many friends from so many different periods in my life and how difficult it can be to keep up with the day-to-day activities of 200+ friends. Why do I do it? Because the social scientist in me is fascinated!

It's interesting to see what people want to share and what they believe others want to know. On a personal level the status updates, comments, photos, and shared links can be quite revealing. Some of the quiz results I've seen should not be shared with anyone. I really don't care which sexual position or body part best describes you. I don't think anyone else wants to know either but that would just be a guess.

You can also learn a lot about social trends. I'm astounded by the number of men my age (over 50) with very small children or children on the way. Most, but not all, are first time parents. I haven't seen anything about this in the literature and wonder if this trend in my "sample" extends to the general population. Probably.

I'm saddened by the number of divorced women my age. I only hear one side of the story, but it seems most have been replaced by women half their age. I'd throw more stones here but my own partner is 20+ years younger than me. I know every case is unique but taken together, the male gender comes off looking like a bunch of chicken hawks.


The Crotchety Old Man

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Early Fall Garden Update

More than eight inches of much needed rain ushered Fall in this year. Some parts of the state had much more, especially west of Atlanta. Here in Athens it rained at a slow but steady rate for several days--the kind of rain every gardener likes to see.

Before the rain I managed to pull weeds, cut back old growth, and otherwise spruce up several areas. I also added some rust-colored mums (bottom right in photo) to go with the blue ageratums (bottom center) and goldenrod (top left) already in bloom. Knowing rain was coming, I also broadcast fertilizer (10-10-10) across all the flower beds. All the work paid off as everything really looks nice.

The tea olives have been absolutely outstanding. The foot-tall shrubs we planted a few years ago now reach the roof and provide a solid wall of evergreen foliage. For the last few weeks they've been covered with thousands of sweetly fragrant tiny white flowers. Some describe the fragrance as that of a ripe apricot. It's one of the few flower fragrances that never overwhelms.

The whiskey barrel water feature has also done nicely this year. Water lettuce covers the top, with anacharis blooms popping up around them. The dracaena-like stuff planted in the filter medium has done well, too, without overpowering the rest. You can still see little guppies if you look hard enough, but I haven't seen the goldfish since the frog moved in a few weeks ago.

The grasses have been spectacular this season. Zebra grass is featured in the background of the top photo. Elsewhere Miscanthus sinensus (below) blooms with helianthus and lantana.

Lots of work to do before spring. That's OK. Working in the garden is good exercise, even if it does make me....

The Crotchety Old Man

Friday, September 18, 2009

What Would Your Momma Say?

The guys sitting behind us at the Georgia/South Carolina football game weren't fans so much as critics. Two in particular seemed to think they could swap places with any of the coaches or players and do a better job. They certainly didn't hesitate to loudly offer suggestions for players, coaches, officials, and in one instance, a majorette.

About halfway through the first quarter two of them started to get a little obnoxious. We'll call them Curly and Ahole. They clearly disliked several players and best I could tell, all the coaches.

Curly started dropping F-bombs right and left in a very loud voice. Finally, I turned around and requested that he watch is language as there were children and ladies present. Curly responded that it was his expletive right to expletive say whatever the expletive he expletive felt like saying whenever the expletive he expletive pleased, or something like that. You get the idea.

My high school pal turned to Curly and told him she, too was offended. He went off on her as well. That's when I turned and said: "What would your momma say?" He yelled some more but his friends jumped in and told him to chill out.

My partner says Curly called his Momma on his cellphone. I don't know. I just know about fifteen minutes later, Curly tapped me on the shoulder. When I turned around, he hugged me and told me he was sorry. His friends said I had made a friend for life.

I thought it was a fluke until I saw Jay Leno ask Kanye West the same thing. The man with the most over-sized ego on the planet sat in stunned silence, fighting back tears. I realized that me and Jay were on to something.

The next time I'm in situations where I feel the need to comment on rude behavior, instead of worrying about getting my ass kicked I'm just going to say, "What would your Momma say?".

It works! Besides. It's what you would expect from...

The Crotchety Old Man

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Football Fan is Born

After high school I went to the University of Kentucky. The football team lost so often it was frankly hard to be a fan. By the fourth quarter of most games only the fans of our victorious opponents remained in the stands. Everyone else left after the half-time show to beat the traffic.

Fast forward 30 years. By the time I moved to Athens I had lost all interest in college football. As a new UGA employee, I had the opportunity to get in the queue for season tickets. I tossed my order form in the trash without another thought.

A year or two later, a gardener friend invited me to come over to talk gardening and keep him company while his partner watched football. It wasn't long at all before I was hooked. What a difference it makes to root for a team that wins! Go Dawgs! Sic'em! Woof! Woof! Woof!

My partner got in the queue for season tickets when he started working at UGA. Given his lack of interest in watching the games on television, I was surprised but decided to go along. I'm nice like that sometimes. He didn't make the cut last year, but this year he did. Damn. So much for piling up with the dogs on the sofa in front of the wide screen in the comfort of our air-conditioned home.

The first home game was yesterday. Fortunately, kick-off was at 7:00. A high school pal that graduated from UGA drove over from Charleston to go to the game with us. We headed to campus around 3 with no plan and no idea of where we might park.

Everything worked out great. We parked at Hodgson's Pharmacy in Five Points, and ended up walking from there all the way to Speakeasy's downtown. It was HOT!!! After some good food and a couple of adult beverages, we headed for the stadium.

The atmosphere around the stadium is absolutely electric with anticipation and excitement. Our seats are in the end zone, directly across from the replay screen and a comfortable distance away from the Redcoat Marching Band. I learned about 'squeezing' from my far-more-experienced friend from Charleston and was delighted to see how well it worked!

The game was a nail-biter up to the very last seconds. It was an ugly win for us, but a win nonetheless. It was also a very long game--more than 4 1/2 hours. We didn't get home until nearly midnight.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Yeah, I got hot, and when I get hot I sweat like Niagara Falls. In person it was harder to follow what was going on, and I really wish those yellow lines you see on television showed up on the field. Still, going to the game was an incredible experience and I find myself looking forward to the next. I just hope it, too, will be a night game. Anything else is likely to make me once again...

The Crotchety Old Man

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Late Summer Television Update

The biggest train wreck of the summer--Dance Your Ass Off--proved that people are willing to do just about anything in front of a live audience for a chance at $100,000. You'd have to pay me a hell of a lot more than $100,000 to get my fat ass in any of those costumes. It was the facial expressions of the dancers that made the show what it was. This is the show everyone was afraid of when Biggest Loser first came on.

Madmen is the first TV show to keep me up past 10:00 p.m. for a very long time. Intriguing characters, intelligent dialogue, and interesting plot twists keep me glued to the screen and eager for the next episode week after week. It's the best thing on television. If you haven't seen it, you really need to go all the way back to the first episode to know what's going on. It's well worth the time.

The new season of Real Housewives of Atlanta is in full swing. Any two get along fine, but throw in a third and there is trouble every time. The Atlanta Magazine recently called them the trashionistas in an article I've yet to read described as mean-spirited. Seems to me they mostly had it coming. Kandi is a nice addition. She's the only one making an honest living and she made me wonder how many baby momma's would be OK with me(none). I really wanted to see Sheree kick Kim's ass. Who didn't?

Tool Academy Two has started off with a bang. The tools are even more adorable this season than last. Aw come on. Everybody loves a bad boy, especially as hot as nearly all of these guys. The big surprise is that the girlfriends are shocked, just shocked that the tools have been unfaithful. Imagine!

Tuned in to watch the last few episodes of Top Chef Masters--once they stayed with the same group it got interesting. Looks like the gang assembled for Top Chef Las Vegas is among the most talented ever. I think Jennifer, Kevin and Michael V. will be in the final three.

I watch entirely too much television. I admit it. There are lots of things I could and should be doing instead. But with so many excellent viewing options... well... what can I say?

The Crotchety Old Man

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pedophiles, Gays, and Boy Scouts of America

My scoutmaster was a pedophile. We didn't know for a long time. He wasn't married and spent every penny he had on the troop. We went camping once a month year round, and twice a month in summer. We had the best equipment you could get and ate like kings. We camped in beautiful state parks all over Kentucky in summer and at nearby Camp McKee the rest of the year.

The troop was brand new and met less than a mile from my home in a new church. I already had my Tenderfoot from another troop, but had difficulty making it across town to monthly meetings. I jumped at the chance to join a troop closer to home. Since I already had my Tenderfoot and everyone else was a beginner, I was elected Senior Patrol Leader.

Everything was normal at first. Things changed very slowly as he gained our trust and got to know us better. He'd play a dirty tape (hot nuts) in his car for the "select" group that got to ride with him. We laughed whether we got the jokes or not. He smoked, and had no problems with us smoking. Later he'd bring beer along, though only a select few knew about it. You know, boy stuff--and boys will be boys. As far as I know drugs were never involved.

He invited me and the rest of the troop leaders to spend the night at his house the day before a big event so we could get an early start. Somehow I was the only one that came. He made a move, I cried, he stopped immediately, acted like nothing had happened, and neither of us ever mentioned it again. That night marked the end of my time in the select group.

After that he took the select group to cabins for fishing and hunting trips. Then it was hotel rooms, and the invitation list grew ever shorter. Eventually some of us older guys (we were like 14) talked with each other about encounters with him. We agreed not to say anything to anyone else because we didn't want to see the camping trips come to an abrupt end. Besides, it wasn't really hurting anyone, was it?

One of our younger boys hung himself. We went to the funeral home. I saw him laid out in the coffin and lost it. I was so upset that his mother had to comfort me. The guys I came with walked me back to the car. We sat in the parking lot of the funeral home and cried for a long time. I have often wondered if our scoutmaster had anything to do with it.

After my Eagle I got a job and became too busy for scouts. One of the parents called years later, when I was 20. A boy told his Mom about an incident, she called other Moms, more stories came out...the camping trips came to an abrupt end. I have no idea what happened to him but am pretty sure they told him to leave town or they'd call the cops. That was the last I ever heard about our scoutmaster.

The parents wanted me to take the troop to Camp McKee for a week. The boys had been looking forward to and preparing for it for months. That was the first and only time I ever participated in a real scout camp. The first morning the campsite inspectors arrived to find me and most of the 12 boys under my supervision sound asleep in sleeping bags in the midst of a camp site easily mistaken for a disaster area. By the end of the week, we won awards for earning the most merit badges and for the most improved camp site. I ended up staying on as a counselor for several weeks.

I have not burned my Eagle. Participation in boy scouts was good for me. Until very late in my scouting career I was blissfully unaware that our scoutmaster was anything less than an ideal role model. I was not molested, and for those of you who might be curious, had no sexual experiences of any kind with anyone on any of those camping trips. I was too naive to pick up on and/or too fearful to follow through with any opportunities I may have had.

I'm disappointed that BSA sees banning gays as the solution to the problem. Our scoutmaster wasn't gay. He was a pedophile. I can forgive you for thinking they are one in the same, because I once thought the same thing. That's a big part of the reason it took me so long to figure out and accept that I was gay.

My mother came to my defense for the first time when a friend told her to tell me to keep my hands out of her toddler sons pants. Had she called me a dirty fag Mom probably would have agreed. But that someone could think I would ever molest a child infuriated her. It was a break through moment for both of us.

The boy scouts are right to be concerned about sexual predators, but wrong in the assumption that gay men are pedophiles. The gay men I know want a REAL man, thank you very much, not a child. An out gay man doesn't have to sneak around. The ones you need to worry about hide behind marriages of convenience and otherwise pretend to be something they are not. It's just another one of those things that makes me....

The Crotchety Old Man
Follow CrotchetyMan on Twitter